There comes a time when every intellectual needs to set aside The Economist, turn off the latest Sam Harris podcast, and settle down for a night of good, solid television. 

But before you get sucked into the mind-numbing black hole that is reality TV (or find yourself stuck endlessly scrolling through streaming options), check out these binge-worthy shows that will sate your curious mind:


Black Mirror

This one is a no brainer. Or, actually, a full-brainer. 

Black Mirror isn’t one show, per se, but rather a bunch of stand-alone episodes with the general theme of, “How can we f*ck with your brain?” It’s chock-full of mind bending and fun-to-ponder scenarios, as well as wild storylines and heightened consequences for its various protagonists. You’ll laugh, you’ll cover your eyes, and you’ll probably cringe about our tech-heavy future. But most importantly, you’ll use your noggin and be entertained at the same time. 

Black Mirror: Mostly uses human actors.

Black Mirror: mostly human actors. (Source: Game informer)

The Good Place

Are you a secret philosophy nerd? Well, apparently so are the writers of NBC’s The Good Place. 

It’s hard to make a sitcom smart, but this one’ll take you on a journey through some of existential philosophy’s biggest questions – and along the way, you’ll enjoy great performances and sharp-as-a-tack joke writing. And just when you think the show is starting to get mildly predictable, it turns everything on its head… in really forking fun ways. (That’s a joke you’ll get once you start to watch it.)

A scene from The Good Place ... which looks oddly similar to our whiteboard sessions at The Deep. (Source: APA Online)

The Great

Looking for a show that transports you to another time and place, makes you laugh, and leaves you pondering some big moral questions? Then this is the show for you. 

The first half of the first season is good, but the second half – and the entirety of the second season – gets, well, great. We love the morally complex characters (you'll start off loving one and hating another, then find yourself changing your mind). We also love some of the questions the show tackles: What is it acceptable to do (and who is it acceptable to sacrifice) in the name of a good cause? How do you get an entire society to change its ways? And can you fall in love with someone who is lacking in moral character?

A scene from The Great

The Great: It's ...well, you know. (Source: IMDB)
The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone is the OG show for deep thinkers. Like Black Mirror, it was structured as an anthology, featuring a bunch of stand-alone episodes. An addicting mix of fantasy, horror, sci-fi and more, its episodes often lead to surprising conclusions (and heady takeaways). If you plow through all the original episodes, you’ll be glad to know that there have been various reincarnations of it, including a recent one from mastermind Jordan Peele.

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet episode

"Excuse me, flight attendant? The man outside the plane took my peanuts". (Source: Wikipedia)


Before he began acting Strange in Marvel movies, Benedict Cumberbatch cut his chops as the inimitable Sherlock Holmes in this series from the BBC. And whether you’ve read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books on the famous fictional detective or not, you’re sure to be entertained and intrigued by the intricate and well executed mysteries of Sherlock

It’s a delightful period piece that showcases the many investigative talents of Sherlock Holmes, all while weaving intricate plot points together in ways that’ll make your brain churn as it's equally entertained. So, head on over to 221B Baker Street – with your thinking cap on.

Classic Sherlock Holmes in a hat
Pictured: Benedict wearing his cumberbatch. (Source: The Guardian)
Man In The High Castle

It's worth watching the first season of this show, which poses the intriguing question: What would our world look like if the Nazis (and the Axis powers) had actually won WWII? The show takes a bizarre turn for fantasy at the end of the first season, but the central premise is absolutely fascinating. 

Man in the high castle nazi symbol clip

Man In The High Castle: How could you Nazi this show?! (Source: Hollywood Reporter)


HBO’s Westworld is part robots, part western-gunslingers, and all fun. Set in the future, Westworld is a park where the super-rich can pay to spend time in “the old west,” replete with a staff of human-looking robots who cater to their wildest fantasies. As you might expect, things aren’t as they seem, and the park’s secrets begin to unravel. It’s a fun ride that’ll have you thinking about the nature of futurism, free will, and A.I.

Westworld cast

Westworld: Hot humans, hot robots, hot climate (Source: The Guardian)


From the get-go, Maniac makes it clear you’re in for a wild viewing experience. Part sci-fi, part psychological thriller, part LSD-fever-dream, Maniac tells the story of a group of people who volunteer for a drug trial. The drug is supposed to rid them of all human pain and suffering. Beyond that… well, you’ll just have to see where this genre-bending, funny, and creative series takes you. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone give award worthy performances, and the show takes you on a ride that’ll mess with your mind (in all the right ways).

 Maniac Jonah Hill and Emma Stone

Maniac: Only one Michael Cera away from being Superbad 2 (Source: The Guardian)

Have a show you think deserves to be added to the list? Add it to the comments!



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  • Anna said:

    Legion, especially season 2.

    February 25, 2022

  • Ashley said:

    I hope you’ll forgive me for jumping on the hype train but I think Squid Game is a fantastic edition to this list! It taps into something so carnal, so primitive, and fundamental about human nature. On the one hand you’re observing what evils people are capable of committing under the most distressing, desperate circumstances and yet you also see glimmering pieces of what makes us human (things like hope, perseverance, compassion, altruism, etc.). Squid Game does a splendid job of exploring an age-old question human societies have always grappled with: Are people inherently wicked or good? Top off the innate fascination we have with understanding our own nature with fantastic storytelling, social commentary, gripping action, and elements of nostalgia (children’s games) and I think you’ve created a perfect concoction of a sensational hit show that resonates with people who’ve ever given a second thought to human nature, society and our place in it!

    February 22, 2022

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